Last year, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, announced the social media giant’s plan to merge its three largest messaging apps — Facebook Messenger, the messaging feature on Instagram, and WhatsApp.
If you’re worried that this will spell the end for your favorite stand-alone messaging apps, don’t panic. Each of these apps will still be able to stand alone; however, with the merger, the messaging infrastructure of these apps will be integrated. This will mean that, for example, an Instagram user could message a WhatsApp user without the need for actually downloading WhatsApp.
Facebook’s plan to merge its apps gets a rocky start.
When Facebook originally announced the upcoming merger in 2019, its plan was to integrate its messaging apps by the end of last year or the beginning of this year, at the latest. But, the reality of the situation hasn’t exactly played out that way.
Right now, Facebook is fighting a lawsuit brought on by industry peers who see its move as “the most brazen, willful anticompetitive scheme in a generation.” The suit also alleged, “The net effect of Facebook’s anticompetitive scheme is one of the largest unlawful monopolies ever seen in the United States…”
It’s not just industry competitors who are concerned about Facebook’s move. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is, at the moment, mulling over the idea of putting a stop of the merger. Furthermore, Facebook is currently dealing with not one, not two, but three separate antitrust investigations by the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department, and the FTC.
In addition to the legal troubles Facebook’s merger announcement has created, it’s also led to internal strife within the company. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Instagram, left the company in September of 2018 when Zuckerberg started taking more control over it. Jan Koum and Brian Acton, reportedly left for similar reasons.
What’s the point of merging Facebook’s messaging apps?
Why would Facebook want to merge it’s messaging apps in the first place, especially considering all of the legal and internal issues it created for them?
In a statement about the merger, Facebook said its goal was to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.” It went on to say, “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”
One example Zuckerberg has given as a reason for the merger is Facebook’s Marketplace feature, where users have to follow links to buy to Facebook Messenger, which means that a WhatsApp user would have to leave the app and open Messenger instead.
One example Zuckerberg has given as a reason for the merger is Facebook’s Marketplace feature, where users are able to follow links and make purchases through Facebook Messenger. Currently, a WhatsApp user would have to leave the app and open Messenger to make a purchase, but the merger will allow that WhatsApp user to make the purchase without having to close out the app and open Messenger. According to Zuckerberg, the merger will make it easier for users to get the functionality they need in one place.
What does the merger mean for businesses?
As you can see, Facebook’s messaging app merger is nowhere near complete, nor is it definite, but it is certainly still a possibility. Because of that, businesses that utilize Facebook, Instagram, and/or WhatsApp need to know how it could affect them.
Believe it or not, if the merger ends up happening in the end, it could actually benefit businesses that utilize social media marketing in order to get their names out there. Here are a few of the potential benefits the merger could have for businesses:
#1. Get more out of chatbots.
Chatbots automatically engage with users when a business receives messages, and they can be programmed to respond the same way every time, or to respond differently depending on the keywords used or the situation.
Over the past few years, as businesses start to understand the benefits of using chatbots for answering questions, solving complaints, etc. more and more, the use of chatbots by businesses has grown exponentially
For a business that uses chatbots, managing them over three different messaging apps can be time-consuming and pricey. But, with the Facebook merger, one chatbot could be used to connect with a much larger population.
#2. Find an alternative to email marketing.
Email marketing has become a powerful way to connect with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of subscribers. Although email marketing has become a $100 billion industry, it would be foolish to assume that there are no downsides.
One of the major downsides of email marketing is that businesses don’t necessarily need to earn email addresses from their clients. In fact, many of them will simply purchase email addresses from a vendor, which leads to people receiving unsolicited emails.
With the merger, businesses would be able to reach the vast majority of internet users from one place, which could give them an alternative to email marketing. And, it’s beneficial to users, because Facebook requires that they agree to receive messages from businesses.
#3. There’s potential for more business service.
WeChat, which is used in China, isn’t meant for messaging alone. People use it for everything from browsing the web to making purchases, ordering food, requesting a ride, etc. There’s nothing like it in the United States because users are fragmented across a variety of apps, but Facebook’s messaging merger takes us one step closer.
The merger of Facebook’s messaging app makes it possible for businesses to potentially roll out additional services on the new platform. It also gives businesses the potential to market their products and services in a new way.
Let us help you keep up with the changes in social media marketing.
Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know whether or not this merger will ever happen. However, the only thing that is definite is that the social media marketing landscape will keep changing and evolving. And, when it does, the team at Marketing 360® will be there to help you keep your strategy up to date and ensure that it’s always effective. Learn more when you visit us online today.